#MondayMotivation #Monday #Blues

Faced a crude shock in the morning today when a heavy 7 foot wooden door fell on the back of our year old beloved car.

The initial reaction was extreme anger. With my son in permanent love for his ‘red car’, it was even more hurtful. Basically felt as if lightning of bad luck decided to strike and my poor ride came in the way.

After sometime, better sense prevailed. I checked with the contractor working on the renovation project from where the door fell down about the events that led to the accident.

Very professionally, he told me that he is extremely apologetic for the damage and that he would bear the loss. He also informed that he was concerned about the safety at that site and had gone to the market to purchase some items for site safety. The accident happened while he was away.

By then I had collected my thoughts and anger had given mental space to rationality. Since the vehicle is fully covered in bumper to bumper comprehensive insurance, the damage became lesser of my worry and I realised that its just a hassle now. With the additional discomfort of not having the vehicle for about a month at my disposal, there is really not much to worry about.

I inquired from the contractor about the worker who was handling the door and if he was hurt. By God’s grace there was no one injured.

The spot where the car was parked is a common spot for people to stand and chit chat in the morning. I further thanked God that there was no one at the spot at that time.

The anger had completely gone away by now. However, I still had to go to the body shop to complete the paperwork and hand over the vehicle.

I made a quick call to the office to align things and inform about my absence during the major part of the day. Just as I was about to leave, my little one wrapped himself around my right leg and demanded that I take him along.

Though the bodyshop is not the best of the places to take children, I still gave in.

For the next few hrs, we spent time together to complete the paperwork and make submission of the vehicle.

The car would be gone for a good 25-30 days but we, the father-son duo, were able to steal a few hours for ourselves together.

While we often complain about things that happen to us, we miss out on things that could have gone worse. Damage to the car can be repaired but had there been a human injury in the accident, the smiles above may not have been there.

Lesson learned from this. Say cheers to life. Be motivated everyday not just on Monday.

Fasting as a Remedy – Festival and Internet

11 Things to Know About Intermittent Fasting - Featured, Health Topics,  Nutrition - Hackensack Meridian Health
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The concept of fasting is nothing new. From times unknown, people have been taking a break in their eating pattern, sometimes lasting as long as 30 days to cater to one reason to another. These reasons could be religious or just health related.

Ever since my childhood, I have seen my family members fasting on following religious occasions –

  1. Twice a year for 8 days as part of Navaratri.
  2. Fasting on 16 Mondays for fulfilment of a desire with the blessings of Lord Shiva
  3. Fasting on Thursdays to perform better in their area of impact
  4. Fasting on the birth anniversary of Lord Krishna
  5. Fasting to celebrate the heavenly dance of creation, preservation and destruction by Lord Shiva
  6. Women of the household fasting to seek long life for their husbands
  7. Mothers of the household fasting to seek long lives for their children

With age, food based or meal based fasting has also become a part and parcel of everyday life. There are days when the only food to be consumed is only fruits, as we are doing a Phalaahar that day or at that time of the meal.

Terms like intermittent fasting, carb fasting etc are also becoming more and more popular. Of late, one can see that various forms of food or meal based fasting is being adopted globally.

While fasting to moderate food consumption is popular, the outage of popular social media platforms few weeks back made me think if another equally and perhaps more prevalent consumption also requires fasting. This consumption is internet and so content consumption through digital media.

I had decided to observe the fast on Oct 24, 2021. You can read more about it here.

Coincidentally it was the same day when my wife was also doing a no water no food fasting wishing for my long life, as part of her commitment towards Karva Chauth.

I started the fast from the midnight of Oct 24, 2021.

In the morning, after my morning walk, I devoted time to vacuum clean some of the home furniture, carpets and other parts of the house. This activity had been pending for weeks and a couple of hours were well invested into this.
Since my son was away with my parents to my brother’s place in Hyderabad, I helped my wife with some of the preparations she had to do for the conclusion of her fast in the last evening hours.

It was lunch time by then.

The real challenge came in the afternoon. I made myself busy with ‘Exponential’ from Azeem Azhar. Its a good book and was able to go half way through.

By the evening, my craving to switch on the internet on my devices and also on my phone had started building serious. I even picked up the phone once at around 5 pm but then let it be for the time being.

The rest of the evening was just wasting time and doing nothing.

At 7:30 p.m., I concluded my fast with ICC T20 World Cup match between the arch-rivals India and Pakistan. I would say there was no worse way of concluding the fast given the extremely poor performance by the Men in Blue.

My big lesson from the attempt was that I have become very very addictive of the content consumption. I found myself feeling empty when the devices were not feeding content to me.

This is certainly not how I want myself to be.

I am thinking now to make internet fasting a more regular feature in my monthly schedule to make sure that I do not become an addict to this consumption.

When processes go wrong

7 Strategies for Building a Rock Solid Reputation | Inc.com
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In the world today, withdrawing money from the ATM is a very routine thing. It is as routine as getting up in the morning and going through your daily chores and then to have your breakfast and so on. Very routine, everyday and almost mechanical activities that one gets involved in.

So is withdrawing money from the ATM.

Basically, its a very simple 5 step process:

  1. You wait for your turn in front of an ATM machine if there is a queue.
  2. You insert your money card and follow the instructions as given by the machine. With a little tweak of steps, each bank pretends to be different to this highly banal process.
  3. You ignore all the advertisements in the duration.
  4. The ATM checks the following 4 things for a successful transaction –
    • Checks the card and PIN integrity
    • Checks whether the money in the account is more than the amount entered to be withdrawn
    • Checks whether the amount desired is not exceeding the permissible limits of daily withdrawal
    • Checks if enough money is there in the ATM to serve the need
  5. And finally delivers the money through the cash window

What could possibly go wrong in such an activity as long as –

  • The card and PIN integrity is true
  • The money in the account is more than the money desired in withdrawal
  • The permissible daily limit of withdrawal is not breached
  • And the ATM is capable of dispensing the required cash

However, if you are ICICI Bank, you could have additional possibilities despite all these checks –

  1. You could be subject to ‘suspicious activity’ in the account
  2. You could be subject to multiple robocalls from the bank claiming that they are not able to confirm the transaction. So either you accept the transaction or get your account ‘blocked’.

I faced this situation yesterday when a simple transaction went horribly wrong.

On its own, ICICI Bank decided to block my card for over 1 hr just because as I had a failed attempt to withdraw cash from their bank’s ATM. This was despite the fact that there was nothing unusual from my side in the transaction. There was enough money in my account to withdraw. The PIN was correct and this was my first transaction of the day with the bank.

As soon as I got out from the ATM with the failed transaction, I got relentless calls from their robocalling system to either confirm the transaction or reject and block the card.

Finally, I called their call center and asked them if I have been cursed by them today as I made an attempt to withdraw my own money from their ATM. The call center associate profusely apologised but kept referring to ‘the team’ that can tell why it has been blocked.

Anyway, the ordeal lasted for a couple of hours and by then the purpose of going to the ATM and withdrawing cash had been fulfilled by some other mechanisms.

The entire episode made me wonder what could have potentially gone wrong in a rather straight forward transaction.

Here are some of the things –

  1. Was it the poorly written fraud detection algorithm that threw a false alarm from the system?
  2. Was it the wrong rules setup by the people who defined this system?
  3. The process of the bank itself was flawed. There was absolutely no synch between the call center conversation and the robocalling queue. During the 5 minute conversation with the call center executive, I got 3 calls from the robocalling queue.
  4. The process is poorly written. The only options that the robocalling mechanism gave me were either to accept that the transaction was through or to get the card blocked. The card got blocked irrespective so that option was redundant.
  5. The call center executive told me that the block will go away in 30-40 minutes. However, the relentless robocalling continued even after the discussion. The robocalling queue seemed like a bullet that couldnt be stopped once your name gets added there.
  6. And finally, the call center executive didnt have enough details of the problem. He kept apologising but didnt know the reason why. I still dont know.

With more and more digitalisation coming into play, understanding the user experience is becoming more and more important. Flaw in the fraud detection process or logic is a thing that would surface again in the future. However, its the lack of clarity of the reasons and then relentless calling through robocalling left the whole episode in a very bad taste.

Perhaps the product managers can take a few notes from this experience of mine.

Internet #Fasting – #Disconnect for a Day

Diabetes and Intermittent Fasting: What Do The Experts Say?
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A couple of days back the powerhouse of social media, Facebook(FB), underwent a long outage. All entities of FB that is photo sharing platform Instagram, chatting service Whatsapp, FB messenger and the website FB itself were beyond the reach of a lot of people for close to six hours.

Things went funny as CEO of another social media platform, smaller in size though, chided Mark Zuckerberg if the facebook.com domain name was up for sale.

Facebook covers more than 30% of the world in terms of its average active user counts. With a staggering 2.7 Billion users latching on it, the outage affected many people.

Not going into the nitty gritty of what went wrong and the root cause analysis of the technical problem that led to this, it was clear that a large percentage of people suddenly had some time away from the media.

An important side effect of the whole thing was that people found themselves with some time. There were posts on Twitter of people doing something with their families or with their pets, browsing through books, listening to music, just chit-chatting etc.

With the social media down, the social animal called human being became more social as the unsocial monotony via a medium was just not available.

While, not much affected but I took some time off to play with my young son and tried to teach him a few things with a cricket bat.

It also made me think what would happen if one were to spend a day without the internet at all.

A common distraction that I face, sometimes even while on lunch, is the temptation to respond to people over emails or slack. Knowing this is something of an extremely unhealthy habit, the outage gave me some time to introspect and think what does one lose if there is no internet for a day.

As an experiment, I am thinking of making one Sunday of the month as an ‘Internet fasting Day’. This would be the day when I will not latch onto any medium to spend time or ‘browse’- mobile, OTT, Television, laptops, iPads… nothing.

I would just bare essentials needed for day to day is what I would use. Being a Sunday, I would not be distracted by any work related needs, hopefully.

Lets see how this goes. I plan to do the first such on Sunday Oct 24, 2021. Wish me luck!